Tapestries are a style of textile art, traditionally woven on vertical looms.They come with different designs, colors and scenes. They are available in various kinds of materials and sizes.
Weaving has its veins in ancient basketry, which need stiff fibers. The discovery of a loom allowed the use of pliable fibers, which clutches the lengthwise envelop strands tight while the crosswise weft strands are woven in.
A pottery dish was found in one of the Egyptian tomb date back 4400 BC. On this dish there was a picture that depicted the loom based on pegs in the ground that held on to the rods to which the warp threads were groomed. A loom, not very distinct from today’s tapestries loom, appeared in Egypt way back in the 18th century. The Nanjo Indians still use a similar loom.
After the introduction of mechanism by Englishmen looms went through drastic changes. During the industrial revolution, hand weaving almost lost its form; but it still remains an artisan crafts in a few parts of the world. For instance, there is British Isles where people are showing great interest in learning ancient arts like hand crafts. Hand weaving is nowadays hunted more for pleasure than profit.
The Weaving Procedure
Since ages, the weaving procedure has remained constant; and this can be seen from those early pegs in the ground to the mechanized looms of today.
The three main elements in making tapestries are shed, picking and beating. The warp is the basis of the cloth and weft is woven into form weave and sketch of the piece. Substitutable, the warp threads are ribbed to pass the shuttle with the weft threads through. The space created is called the shed. A row of weft is called as pick. Beating is the process that ensures that the pick is even and is placed properly against the previous pick.
The warp involves lot of stress and so it should be made of strong fiber. When designing the dimensions, at least ten percent extra should be left on the width to allow for the pulling in on the borders, which are created by the turn of the weft around the outside warp ends. These warp threads must be prepared and placed carefully on the loom.
Tapestry weaving requires unique mastery. The weavers fill in color areas one at time, leaving incisions in the fabric, which are then sewed later.
The designs for the tapestries are done by an artist on card- this is sometimes called as cartoon. The weaver uses this as the “model”. Nowadays, in mechanized tapestry production, the artist builds a painting the size of the final tapestries. A sample design is made showing each stitch of the weft. The card is then pushed by electronic equipment to fit the jacquard loom.
The beautiful tapestries that you can find in old cathedrals and art museums were meticulously woven by hand. Some were made by royalty, some were commissioned by artists and some by lowly paid workers.
You can choose from a variety of tapestries and use them as wall hangings, curtains or bedspreads. It is definitely a thing of beauty which can be inherited by your future generations with time.
Happy tapestry shopping!
Thanks & regards
Dr. Hitesh Sharma
Bless International (™)